This Week in Tablets: What a difference a year makes

by George Jones

December 8 2012

George is a founding editor of TabTimes and currently works for Wikia.com as Director of Programming


Also inside: Is Microsoft on the precipice of disaster with Windows 8 tablets?

One year ago this past week, TabTimes launched itself into the tablet-sphere with a singular mission and focus: Cover the emerging world of tablets with an eye towards business and productivity.

When we conceived of this mission in the spring of 2011, the tablet platform was just gaining lift-off. By the end of the year, tablets were established enough that businesses were deploying them in mass numbers, and crafting BYOD policies and permissions for their employees.

At the same time, many mainstream consumers were still just beginning to think about buying iPads as household devices.

One year later, tablets are old hat, a no-brainer for homes and businesses. And games. And movies. And TV. And sports. And just about everything else.

One tablet year = 3 PC years?

Whether you’re talking people, products, companies, or marriages, the one-year mark is an important milestone.

When I look back at TabTimes' first year of existence, I’m surprised by three developments.

First, as big as we all thought tablets were going to be, and as big as resellers and prognosticators thought tablets were going to be, we actually under-estimated how quickly they would catch on.

Even IDC recently revised its projections for tablet growth by 2016 upwards, from 261.4 million tablets to 282.7 million tablets sold.

Second, and equally amazing in my eyes, TabTimes has not only continued to grow in size and importance, but over the last year has set an impressive pace of releases and events, including:

  • Two live, in-person conferences
  • The launch of the TabTimes site
  • The launch of a TabTimes HTML5 web app
  • The release of an iOS TabTimes magazine-style app
  • The launch of a Windows 8 tablet app
  • The world debut of the Tabby Awards

That’s impressive—especially considering the glut of web sites, magazines, and news outlets scrambling to cover the post-PC world in minute detail.

I’ll say this much: What feels like a no-brainer now felt a lot more like a leap of faith back when we were conceiving of and starting up TabTimes in early 2011.

We all saw the trend in our lives and in our hands. But the notion that this would grow beyond home use into the Fortune 500 and beyond so rapidly? Or the fact that in 2012, we’d already be on track to see 100 million tablets sold? That’s substantial growth.

Rapid evolution

What’s really wild about the last year is that, as quickly as the public has adopted tablet devices, the platform itself has evolved even faster.

One year ago, we were enthused about Amazon’s entry into the tablet market with the Kindle, but we were greatly concerned about Android’s viability otherwise.

Today, Android tablets are expected to come in at just under 43% of the total market.

One year ago, the only tablet with an integrated pen was Lenovo’s ThinkPad Tablet (way ahead of its time). Now, Samsung has demystified pen-based computing with the Galaxy Note.

And the 7-inch tablet form-factor, which Amazon validated during the 2011 holiday season in spectacular manner, is now legit enough that it forced Apple to play follow the leader for the first time in a long time.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: It’s easy to get hung up on hardware, but tablets are indispensable because they intersect our lives in literally every capacity imaginable. Whatever you do in your live, there’s an app for it…if you have an Apple or Android device.

This week’s loser: Microsoft

Things appear to be going from bad to worse for Microsoft’s Surface tablet. Rumors that Microsoft might be working on three new Surface devices created a surprisingly strong backlash.

The double-hit here for Microsoft (and other PC manufacturers) is that PC Windows shipments are in decline for the first time ever. It’s only a 1.2% drop, but that’s enough to make you wonder: Is this the beginning of a longer-term stall or dip?

I know this much: The rise of tablets, the lack of love for Windows 8, and increasing popularity for the Apple’s iPhone-iPad-MacOS ecosystem can’t be a good sign for PC shipments. The confusion the company has created with Surface RT, Surface Pro, and Windows 8 isn’t helping.

I can’t help but think that Microsoft may be on the precipice of disaster here. In the worst case scenario, people stop buying Windows 8 systems, don’t buy Win8 tablets, and completely ignore Windows 8 phones. The impact would be devastating.

This week’s winner: TabTimes

I’m biased, of course, but hey. It’s not every week that a media start-up turns one. Congrats to the whole crew at TabTimes for a great 

George is a founding editor of TabTimes and currently works for Wikia.com as Director of Programming

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